Ko Wen-je quip on Jason Hu falls flat
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-02-19 10:24 AM
The "Ko Wen-je phenomenon" took a brief callous turn Tuesday as a casual comment by the NTU physician jolted the Green Camp as well as the world of Taipei politics.

Ko was speaking at Zhongshan Presbyterian Church in Taipei on ECMO (extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation, similar to a heart-lung machine) and the subject of how to face life and death situations. In the course of his talk he referred to the traffic accident suffered by Taichung Mayor Jason Hu and his wife Shaw Hsiao-ling in November 2006. Quipping that "even though Shaw Hsiao-ling’s head was screwed up, Jason Hu still managed to smile."

It was an offhand remark that completely missed its mark and quickly ‘went viral’ in Taiwan media.

Ko showed a photo of Shaw following successful ECMO treatment, telling the audience, "Look at Shaw Hsiao-ling, her left hand is gone, her head all screwed up; but Jason Hu seems to manage a smile." Almost as soon as the words were out of his mouth, friends and members of the public were questioning the insensitivity of his gaffe.

Ko later tried to calm the uproar by explaining that the comment was meant as a joke. He recalled that on the night of the accident many feared that Shaw would not survive, but fortunately she came back with the help of techniques like ECMO, and once she started to recover, her husband was able to smile again.

Explaining his "screwed up" remark, Ko said the official term for Shaw’s condition is hypoxia and Shaw is in fact still suffering from its effects today. He also admitted that sometimes he has problems himself with his speech, saying that he can’t be accurate and precise 100% of the time.

On hearing of Ko’s gaffe, Mayor Hu was diplomatic, saying "My wife is not screwed up at all, in my heart she is incomparably beautiful and compassionate!" Hu added that he believed Ko did not intend for his remark to be hurtful and said he will always be very grateful for the role Ko played in treating Shaw following the accident.

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